Your immune system can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When working properly, it can save your life and when it’s not it can end your life. Your immune system is one of the most powerful and complex systems you have. Much like the dog pictured here, your immune system is your defender and protector when it works properly. When it behaves badly, things can do go very, very wrong.

In traditional medicine, the immune system has typically been viewed as a nuisance…an annoying little system that should be pushed aside or suppressed.

It is suppressed with drugs in the treatment of many autoimmune diseases. It is often damaged in the process of treating cancers. Even on a relatively mild scale it is pushed down with anti-inflammatory drugs or allergy medications.

Our immune systems have been vilified and treated as a source of problems instead of the solution to the very problems it can cause. Problems caused by our immune system are best managed by the immune system itself. Drugs or medication that are designed to “treat” immune system problems always carry side-effects. You cannot force a change in your immune system with a drug and not open the door to potentially more immune system problems.

Even mild drugs that alter immune responses like antihistamines carry a long list of potential side-effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty urinating and constipation
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Breast swelling and tenderness.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/21223-antihistamines

These side-effects are actually new dysfunction in the body caused by trying to suppress a single chemical of the immune system called histamine. Antihistamines are probably the “safest” drugs that suppress immune system reactions. Other forms of suppression carry significant risks.

The point I want to make is that our immune system should not be targeted for suppression, but instead support so that is exhibits appropriate and healthful activity.

Your best friend or worst enemy

When your immune system is working properly it keep you safe and helps your body to heal. It protects you from bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites and even cancer cells. All of which would take your body over and destroy it, if it were not for your immune system.

Yes, even cancer.

COVID-19

Your immune system is what will determine your response to infection or vaccination with COVID-19. Many people have virtually no symptoms from the virus whereas others die from it. Your immune system and how it responds to the virus will determine your experience with the virus or the vaccine for it.

COVID and autoimmunity…

“With the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been different reports about the development of autoimmune diseases once the infection is controlled. SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes the disease—triggers a severe inflammatory state in some patients known as “cytokine storm” …after this, autoimmune conditions may occur.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556280/

Cancer

Many people do not realize that their immune system has cells that are able to destroy cancer cells and cells that are precancerous.

“But when there is a change in our DNA or damage to it, a gene can mutate. Mutated genes don’t work properly because the instructions in their DNA get mixed up. This can cause cells that should be resting to divide and grow out of control, which can lead to cancer.”

https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-cancer/how-cancer-starts-grows-and-spreads/?region=on

Natural Killer (NK) Cells are lymphocytes…immune system cells…and respond quickly to a wide variety of pathological challenges. NK cells are best known for killing virally infected cells and detecting and controlling early signs of cancer. NK cells were first noticed for their ability to kill tumor cells…they are named for this ‘natural’ killing ability.

https://www.immunology.org/public-information/bitesized-immunology/cells/natural-killer-cells

Cancer prevention has always been and will always be the best form way to eradicate cancer in our society.

We have not figured out how to cure the common cold or seasonal allergies…how close can we possibly be to curing a disease as complex as cancer?

This is what a non-conventional cancer treatment center says…

“In conventional medicine, “success” in cancer treatment is defined by the patient maintaining in remission (no detectable cancer) for a period of 3-5 years. There is no mention of their quality of life, continued mental and physical suffering following harsh, and unnecessary medical “interventions.”

The statistics for stage 4 cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy are so dismal, that in many cases they would be more likely to live longer if they did no treatment at all. The tragedy of modern treatment is that success is “surviving” not thriving.”

To live a cancer-free life, it does not end at cutting it out (surgery), burning it (raditation) and poisoning it (chemotherapy) to eliminate the cancer cells, it requires more than that. The “seed” of cancer is still there inside the body, waiting for fertilizer…

https://akesisoncology.com/patient-guide/faq/what-is-the-success-rate

If cancer does not kill you, the bill might…

“If you are diagnosed with cancer, which expert should you see first?

  1. A medical specialist
  2. A money manager

Not only are cancer patients 2½ times as likely to declare bankruptcy as healthy people, but those patients who go bankrupt are 80 percent more likely to die from the disease than other cancer patients…“For many patients, when they get the bills, it can be as bad as some of the side effects of the disease or the treatment,” says the center’s Gary Lyman, M.D.”

https://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-2018/the-high-cost-of-cancer-treatment.html

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune disease is what happens when your immune system fails to regulate itself. This includes common autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease, vitiligo, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. Functional medicine can help restore greater balance and function to the immune system.

Your immune system should never attack your body, but that is exactly what happens with autoimmunity. It does not knowingly do this. It is often a case of “mistaken identity” where your immune system is led to believe proteins in certain tissues are actually proteins from a foreign source. One way this mistake can happen is called molecular mimicry…

“Molecular mimicry is one of the leading mechanisms by which infectious or chemical agents may induce autoimmunity. It occurs when similarities between foreign and self-peptides (proteins) favor an activation of autoreactive (self-attacking) T or B cells by a foreign-derived antigen in a susceptible individual.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30509385/

This basically means that our immune system confuses “self-proteins” with “foreign-proteins” and so the immune system attacks our bodies by mistake.

This is a form of immune dysregulation…

“Immune dysregulation is any breakdown in control of immune system processes. For example, dysregulation is a component in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and some cancers.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immune_dysregulation#:~:text=Immune%20dysregulation%20is%20any%20proposed,autoimmune%20diseases%20and%20some%20cancers.In an effort the manage this dysregulation, drugs are often used to suppress the immune system…immunosuppressive drugs are used to manage several autoimmune diseases.

“…immunosuppressive drugs make the immune system less able to detect and destroy cancer cells or fight off infections that cause cancer…”

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/immunosuppression

“All immunosuppressive drugs have a non-specific and extremely heterogeneous (dissimilar/different) mechanism of action, but their main consequences and side-effects are infections and malignancies (cancers).”

https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/38/8/747/2898699

Functional medicine doctors specialize in supporting a healthy immune system response. When this occurs, allergies and asthma get better, autoimmunity improves and the chances of getting cancer are reduced. The field of improving how your genes work is called epigenetics. We can improve how our genes function through lifestyle modification; this reduces the occurrence of precancerous and cancer cells. Improving your immune system increases it’s ability to identify and destroy these cells when they do occur.

Your immune system is designed to promote health, vitality and life; not take it from you.

The purpose of functional medicine is: 

Understanding how the body works, knowing how and where to investigate health issues, knowing what to look for, understanding the significance of what is found and creating a plan of action to reverse and correct the root cause the health problems.

My wish for you…health, happiness and a better quality of life! 

If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com

Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations. 

This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. This article is for information purposes and is not a substitute professional healthcare services. Contact our office for more information.